We often talk about the “big five” caviar types and forget that there are nearly 30 types of sturgeon found around the world. Add the fact that hybrid caviar varieties are becoming more common, and there’s a potentially infinite number of caviars that could exist!
That’s why we think it’s time to give credit to some underrated and overlooked caviar types to get a more complete picture of this amazing culinary tradition.
Today, we’re zooming in on Siberian Sturgeon, which produces an exquisite roe that is the prized offering at many high-end restaurants around the world.
Let’s explore all the facts about Siberian Sturgeon and share our insights on the caviar that rightfully deserves its high price point and accolades.
What Is Siberian Sturgeon?
The Siberian Sturgeon (Acipenser baerii) belongs to the sturgeon family Acipenseridae like the other numerous sturgeon species on the planet.
It’s true to its name and can be found throughout the territory of Siberia, across all major river basins, tributaries, drainage areas, and anywhere else with fresh, flowing water.
These fish are big, weighing up to 450 pounds and growing up to six feet long. However, most Siberian Sturgeon are smaller. Compared to giants of the sea like the great Beluga Sturgeon, this Siberian species is far less imposing.
Caviar and Meat Production
While our main focus is caviar, Siberian Sturgeon is one species known for its exceptionally high-quality meat, in addition to its delicate roe.
Cultures throughout Europe and Asia treat sturgeon as a delicacy, whether it’s grilled, cured, or prepared in the traditional, regional way.
As is the case with caviar production in all species, females take a long time to reach maturity—at least 20 years until they first start producing eggs.
Even then, it takes several years for the female to spawn, although the volume is significant when it happens: over 400,000 eggs at a time.
This means that caviar producers must take a scientific and strategic approach to caviar production when dealing with Siberian Sturgeon, and it explains why the rise of aquaculture standards is so important to the ongoing legacy of caviar on a global scale.
On the subject of populations and endangerment, Siberian Sturgeon have been overfished for centuries, mainly due to its close proximity to Russian city centers and major trade routes on the Asian continent.
Thankfully, strict rules were imposed in the region in the latter half of the 20th century, ensuring that the population of Siberian Sturgeon was preserved and the trajectory of extinction was reversed through proactive measures.
Now, the population of Siberian Sturgeon is being returned to full health in its native regions, and the majority of these fish are raised in controlled farm environments.
China is the main producer of Siberian Sturgeon in the 2020s, while aquaculture operations are also popping up throughout the Middle East and the Americas.
The good news is that Siberian Sturgeon are quite a resilient species and can adapt to various environments in a short time span, making them an ideal candidate for farm-raised meat and caviar around the world.
Siberian Sturgeon Caviar Characteristics
We’ve got our background facts on the Siberian Sturgeon species, so now it’s time to talk caviar.
Here’s the scoop on this legendary type of caviar from the cold waters of Siberia:
Siberian Sturgeon caviar has a distinctive look that is a departure from more colorful caviars like Royal Ossetra and Kaluga Hybrid.
The eggs are moderate to small in size, so don’t expect massive Beluga-level pearls. Instead, the look of Siberian Sturgeon caviar is more subtle, with less color than you might expect from other types of caviar.
These pearls tend to be jet-black at first glance and extremely glossy due to a high concentration of quality fats and oils that are characteristic of this sturgeon species.
Upon closer inspection, we see that the pearls do contain lighter tones, including hints of grey and green that serve to contrast against the dark matte black surface. Like with all caviars, you see something different at every angle, depending on the lighting and atmosphere.
Most of all, we can safely say that Siberian Sturgeon caviar is classic in every sense of the word. The size of the eggs makes them ideal for a high-volume scoop on a mother-of-pearl spoon, and the color creates a striking contrast with a buckwheat blini or dollop of crème fraiche.
If you are looking for caviar in its purest, most glamorous form, Siberian Sturgeon checks all the boxes from a visual standpoint.
Flavor and Texture
Caviar is about more than just looks, obviously. Flavor and texture matter most of all, and it’s no surprise that Siberian Sturgeon caviar packs a serious punch to the palette.
Like any fine caviar, this variety does not overwhelm with saltiness and brine. Instead, expect a rich array of flavors ranging from nuts and aged cheese to herbs and earthy umami.
The texture is more of a melt-in-your-mouth experience as opposed to a “pop” that some may want from their caviar. As true caviar connoisseurs know, it’s not all about the bursting sensation but rather the longevity and complexity of the flavors and textures on the palette.
Availability and Cost
Obtaining Siberian Sturgeon caviar is not as much of a challenge as it once was due to improved farming methods and a globalized economy.
You can purchase Siberian Sturgeon caviar online just as you would any other type of premium caviar. You can have it shipped directly to your door in packaging that keeps the product safe and cool.
In terms of cost, Siberian Sturgeon is on the pricier end of the spectrum in the caviar marketplace. Anything under $100 per ounce is considered a good deal for this product, although buying in higher volumes is usually advised for cost and convenience.
Serving Siberian Sturgeon Caviar
If you do choose to procure Siberian Sturgeon caviar for your next dinner party or low-key night at home, be sure to follow the golden rules of caviar storage and service to get the most from the experience.
This means storing your Siberian Sturgeon caviar in the coldest part of your refrigerator, undisturbed, as soon as you extract it from the packaging. It also means opening the caviar tin within under a month to maximize freshness and enjoyment.
When it’s time to serve Siberian Sturgeon caviar, always start with one small scoop, experienced without garnishes or distractions.
From there, you can go all-out with a classic caviar service, including toast points, blinis, roasted potatoes, diced hard-boiled eggs, and anything else you see fit. Don’t forget the chilled white wine or vodka to cleanse the palate between bites!
Expand Your Caviar Knowledge
Siberian Sturgeon caviar tends to be brushed aside as we focus on the more famous caviar varieties, but we think it deserves more of a presence in the caviar conversation.
Even if you start your caviar journey with American or Ossetra sturgeon caviar, make sure to set aside some time for Siberian Sturgeon caviar at some point on your journey.